Wizards of the Coast revealed their newest booster pack, the Set Booster, today as part of their SDCC Online panel. The Set Booster will debut with the release Zendikar Rising, Magic: the Gathering’s next expansion set, in September.

Read about today’s other big reveal: a first look at the Fall expansion, Zendikar Rising.

The breakdown of a Set Booster.

The Contents of a Set Booster

Set Boosters join Theme and Collector Boosters, which began with Throne of Eldraine, as well as normal Draft Boosters as the four kinds of Magic boosters packs. They are most similar to Draft Boosters but also take elements from Theme and Collector Boosters.

“There are a few differences between a Set Booster and the traditional Draft Booster,” Product Architect Mark Heggen told GameSpot. “The 15-card Draft Booster is tuned for Limited play—Draft and Sealed Deck—with spots for commons, uncommons, and rares locked in to optimize those competitive formats. The Set Booster is a curated experience that’s meant to be fun to open. There are things in there for lots of different kinds of Magic fans, and it allows us to play a little bit with the spread of card rarities in the Pack.”

“One of the most interesting concepts that we uncovered was that people often ended up with more copies of commons than they actually wanted,” Heggen continued. “Those extra commons helped with drafts, but a majority of players weren’t excited to have them around. So, we rebalanced the numbers with Set Boosters and used the resources to give players more of the things they would be excited to see—like rares, foils, and special treatment cards with fewer raw commons.”

To that end, Set Boosters will contain 14 cards. There will be 12 playable Magic cards, some of which can vary in rarity (up to four rares!), plus a guaranteed foil and showcase-esque card. There will also be two non-Magic card slots: an art card and an ad/token card—though the ad/token card has at chance to be a card from “The List.”

Let’s start with “The List.”

The Ad/Token Slot and “The List” (1 Card)

The biggest surprise of the Set Booster is the fact that the typical ad/token slot will have a 25% chance to be upgraded to a real card. That card will be drawn from “The List,” a phrase that leaked ahead of today’s panel and caused quite the stir among members of the Magic Community that hoped it referred to Magic’s infamous Reserved List.

Gamespot accidentally tipped the existence of the Set Booster and “The List” ahead of today’s panel.

Instead, “The List” is made up of 300 cards from any product in Magic’s 27-year history and will change “subtly” from set to set. These cards will be printed in their original frames with Planeswalker symbols in the lower left-hand corner, similar to the Mystery Booster product. They range from common to mythic and will drop at the appropriate rates for their rarity.

Importantly, Wizards clarified that fetch lands will not be included on “The List.” After including the enemy fetchlands in Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition, they promised that “there will be another way to pick up some stylized versions of fetch lands later this year that will also be in your local game store.”

They did, however, show off three cards that will be on “The List” for Zendikar Rising’s Set Boosters: Muscle Sliver, Cloudgoat Ranger, and Pact of Negation.

A card will not become Standard-legal by virtue of being on “The List,” nor will it change legality in other formats. Unfortunately, Set Boosters will not be available on MTG Arena, so cards on “The List” will not be coming to the game.

“The List” isn’t the first time Wizards has added cards from outside a set to booster packs. The original Zendikar packs included “expeditions,” which Wizards has expanded to create the Masterpiece series that can occasionally include cards that aren’t in the associated set.

The Art Slot (1 Card)

Art cards, which debuted last year in packs of Modern Horizons, will return in Set Boosters. They will feature art from 81 different cards in the associated set—up from 54 in Modern Horizons—and each art card will have a 5% chance of being upgraded to a signature version, which will feature the artist’s gold-stamped signature on the card.

Art is a big part of what makes Magic such a fun game,” Magic’s Head Designer Mark Rosewater said, “so we’re happy to have this opportunity to celebrate our amazing art and artists. It also adds another collectible to the game (and history shows us we have a lot of players who love collecting things).”

Art cards from Modern Horizons

The Land Slot (1 Card)

Like most booster packs, the Set Booster will have a single basic land slot which to show off the world the set takes place on. This slot will have a 15% chance of being foil and will feature the full-art lands for Zendikar Rising.

“Connected” Commons and Uncommons (6 Cards)

The common and uncommon slots are where Set Boosters really begin to diverge from Draft Boosters. Whereas Draft Boosters contain 10 commons and three uncommons that are sufficiently randomized to create a varied Draft format, Set Boosters will have a group of six commons and uncommons that are connected to each other in some way.

“These six slots in each Set Booster will be grouped in such a way that each card of the same rarity has something to do with the card next to it,” Rosewater said. “Maybe the connection is a creature type, or the cards play well together, or they have some story element in common.”

And, unlike Draft Boosters, there is only one guaranteed uncommon—while the other five cards all have a chance of being common or uncommon. One out of six cards being uncommon will happen 35% of the time, two uncommons 40%  three uncommons 12.5%, four uncommons 7%, five uncommons 3.5%, and all six being uncommon will happen 2% of the time.

The “Head Turner” Slot (1 Card)

The “Head Turner” slot in a Set Booster “is always going to be a visually interesting looking card,” Rosewater said. For Zendikar Rising, this means it will be a common or uncommon that is either a showcase card with a unique frame themed around Zendikar—or “a card that’s a cool element of the set that we haven’t talked about yet.”

Wildcard Rarities (2 Cards)

There will also be two cards that will be wildcards in terms of rarity and can be anything from common to mythic. Opening two commons in these slots will happen 49% of the time, while a common/uncommon split will happen at 24.5%, common/rare at 17.5%, uncommon/uncommon at 3.1%, uncommon/rare at 4.3%, and rare/rare 1.6% of the time. (Note that rare here can mean either rare or mythic.) That means that you have a 23.4% chance of opening an additional rare in the two slots.

The wildcard slots are also the only place in Set Boosters where you can find showcase versions of rares or mythics. (The common and uncommon showcase cards will show up in the previous head turner slot.)

The Rare/Mythic Slot (1 Card)

Set Boosters will also contain the traditional rare/mythic slot. However, mythics will be dropping at an increased rate going forward, beginning with Zendikar Rising. Previously, one out of every eight rares would be upgraded to mythic, but that is being increased to one out of every 7.4 rares.

The Foil Slot (1 Card)

Finally, Set Boosters will contain at least one guaranteed foil, which can range from common to mythic as usual.

Cost and Availability

Wizards said that Set Boosters are estimated to cost about $1 more per pack than Draft Boosters. They will come in 30-pack (rather than the normal 36-pack) booster boxes and will only be available in English and Japanese, though they “have plans of expanding into other languages over time.”

“We expect that you will get the same number of rares and mythic rares per dollar spent as you would buying Draft Boosters,” Rosewater said, despite the increased cost and reduced number of packs per box. That is enabled by the fact that “you can open up to four rares or mythic rares in a Set Booster—both wildcard slots, the rare slot and the foil slot—and that’s not even counting The List.”

“Zendikar Rising Set Boosters are our first attempt at this,” Rosewater continued. “We’re trying a bunch of things that we think players will like, but the real test will come when all of you experience it. We want feedback. We’re more than willing to make changes and adapt based on what we’re hearing from all of you. We’re also open to exploring new ways to make Set Boosters a fun and exciting option for players who aren’t interested in using their boosters to play Limited. We recognize that Set Booster designs have many years of iterating to do to catch up with Draft Boosters, so this is just a starting point. We’ve put a flag in the sand to say we want to make boosters that are as fun to open as possible. Help us realize this goal.”

A Veritable Cornucopia of Boosters

Magic only had one kind of booster for most of its first 26 years of existence. This booster pack format, which was intended for Limited play, was the only way for players to obtain cards—and, according to Wizards, wasn’t ideal for most players.

“No matter what type of player you were or what you cared about, you had to enter each new set through the same booster as every other player,” Rosewater says. “The problem with this method is that it means that any restriction for one group becomes a restriction for everyone. For instance, drafting is a big part of Magic. A lot of decisions about how a booster is put together are affected by how it will draft. So, no matter whether you drafted or not, you were affected by those choices, even if those choices were not ones that made the booster experience better for you.”

Wizards decided to introduce new booster packs that spoke to different audiences with the release of Throne of Eldraine last Fall when they added Theme and Collector Boosters to the mix and renamed the original booster pack to a Draft Booster.

But even with those two new boosters, Wizards still found that people weren’t using Draft Boosters for matches of Limited. “We learned that substantially more than half of all opened boosters are not used in Limited play (aka Sealed and Draft),” Rosewater said. “That means the majority of players are opening boosters optimized for Limited play when they have no intention of ever playing Sealed or Draft. This seemed like an opportunity. What if we made a new booster that was optimized to make opening boosters as fun as possible? What if ripping open a booster could be more fun? That’s what the majority of players are doing. Let’s make a booster for them.”

And that’s what Set Boosters, which will be released with Zendikar Rising, are intended to be.

When combined with a variation on the Collector Booster for August’s Double Masters called “VIP Edition“, the introduction of Set Boosters in September will mean that there will be five different kind of booster packs available for players to purchase. After 26 years of a single version of a booster pack, Magic has gone from one to five over the course of a year. This explosion in booster types has mirrored the explosion in Magic products, like the Secret Lair Drop Series, as well as the general growth of the game.

This new world of Magic products is a far cry from the days when Wizards would release four sets a year with a single type of booster per set—but it’s a world where there’s a product made for (almost) every time of Magic player.

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